10 Hour Endurance www.bike-fest.com event
Location; Ashton Court Bristol
Great way to round out a great season!
Oktoberfest prides itself as being a more laid back affair with a few Bavarian undertones thrown in. The short and fast course at Ashton court cries out for closely fought out racing. Over the previous two years we’ve had to fight to the end, managing to secure the 3rd spot on the podium on the last lap and by the narrowest of margins over 4th place; 11 seconds in 2010 and 13 seconds in 2011. In our third year of racing Oktoberfest we knew what we had let ourselves in for, but I think we all forgot how much it hurt.
Using the tried and tested running order has the team starting with Andy, since he doesn’t seem to mind the run, Pat carries on the fast momentum and passes it on to myself who has the honour of passing the baton onto Kyle, who has to break from his racing retirement each year specially for this event.
Kyle was responsible again for our team name with ‘Abe Fromans sausage squad’ being a nice homage to Ferris Buelers day off, not that I think anyone would have actually got it.
The team numbering system was assigned alphabetically too giving us the Number 1 plates.
I haven’t ever raced at Ashton court in the wet, we had always been very lucky during the previous two years. However, this year it had been raining pretty heavily during the week leading up to the race. This wasn’t going to be much of a problem for the new woodland all-weather singletrack, but the transitions between these sections were waterlogged.
Andy got us off to a great start and by the time he hit the first bit of singletrack he was part of the leading group of riders. The first round of laps for us all went pretty smoothly, with us all putting in fast laps. It became very obvious that team Marin were going to walk away with the race and lead from the front, each of their riders were gaining over a minute on the pack with each lap. The mortals race was being closely fought out, with 2nd and 5th being separated by only a few minutes. As the race progressed 5th place dropped further back and 2nd continued to pull out a small gap of about 20 seconds a lap over our battle for third with the Progression fitness/ bikelux guys.
I would say that after my first fast lap my race was a frustrating one, with my second lap requiring a huge running effort and flat tyre riding after rolling the tyre off the rim and forgetting to carry a pump. Though in the end it still wasn’t my slowest lap, that being my third lap, which was marred with numerous silly falls.
Oktoberfest runs the number of whole laps completed in 8 hour approach, which requires some mathematics near the end of the race to see how much time is left and whether or not another lap can be completed on time. With the slower rolling wet course, for our team a fast lap was anything under 30.5 mins with a very fast lap being anything under 29 minutes. I was then on track to finish a lap at 7 hours 32 minutes. This was therefore going to be our position deciding lap. Lining up in the transition area the rain that was holding off for the whole day started to fall. Eagerly waiting for Pat to show up I was nervously hoping he had managed to get round without any mechanicals. The 3rd place bikelux guys exchange their baton and are off, not far behind Pat powered up the final climb. Once we transfer and I jumped on my bike I was determined to close down the gap and attempt to make an overtaking move the moment I caught up with him. However as the lap progressed, the gap wasn’t closing quite as quickly as I’d like, with traffic on some of the singletrack sections slowing the pace down. This therefore required big turns on the more open sections. Once we were on the last bit of single track the gap was still nearly 100m but I knew once we hit the final heartbreak hill climb this would be significantly reduced. Turning out of the last bit of woods through the large muddy puddle I heard Andy’s excited screams, the bikelux rider was only 20 m ahead but climbing quickly. I put my head down and sprinted, pulling alongside him and somehow I immediately gained a small gap. Racing towards the line a box jump had been lined up, I felt the urge to take the jump but I just knew I’d mess it up. Over the last 100m I refused to look behind and I kept my head down, we had managed to cross the line up by 5 seconds, crossing the line at 7 hour 33 minutes. I wasn’t expecting to see Kyle, since the getting in another lap would have required a huge effort, but the he was there, along side the Bikelux rider. Kyle quickly disappeared and was able to maintain our lead on the track through the first section of singletrack. Though as soon as it opened out, Bikelux powered straight by. The remaining 27 minutes of the race were very nervous, as it stood we were in third and that was safe unless the bike lux guys were able to fit in another lap. Our nerves were being soothed by the jeering crowd wanting blood at the box jump, there were some absolute shocking landings…
The clock counted down and not long after the 8 hour mark the bikelux rider passed with kyle not far behind.
We’d done it! 3 years, 3 thirds. Happy!
We had all put in a great performance with good consistent laps with good drama till the end. Time for a beer and a pretzel!
Earlier in the day we had managed to secure another podium finish with Bec winning the mornings 4 hour solo female category, much kudos for this being her first time round Ashton Court. The Yorkshire lads were also out in force with the formidable force of Andy and Tom riding for Yorkshire Gold. They put in another solid performance, with apparently less pain and suffering felt compared to Erlestoke 12.
Thanks again to the bike-fest guys for arranging another great event and to the very enthusiastic marshals!